Arthur Jeon, Global Animal
“I want to meet that dog.”
This was President Obama’s response upon hearing, in a private ceremony honoring Seal Team Six who killed Osama Bin Laden, that a Belgian Malinois named Cairo was on the raid, according to an article in the New Yorker magazine. The president was told that Cairo was in an adjoining room, muzzled, at the request of the Secret Service.
“If you want to meet the dog, Mr. President, I advise you to bring treats,” the Navy Seal squadron commander joked as Obama went over to pet Cairo.
And so ends the mystery about what breed of dog had gone on the raid to take down the world’s most notorious terrorist.
The New Yorker article details the raid, including Cairo’s role. Inside the two helicopters on the raid were twenty-three Navy SEALs from Team Six, which is officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. A Pakistani-American translator, and Cairo—a Belgian Malinois–a highly intelligent and fearless breed increasingly used by the military.
The two Black Hawks, each of which had two pilots and a crewman from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or the Night Stalkers, had been modified to mask heat, noise, and movement; the copters’ exteriors had sharp, flat angles and were covered with radar-dampening “skin.”
Twelve SEALs, including Mark, boarded helo one. Eleven SEALs, Ahmed, and Cairo boarded helo two.
Cairo’s role was to help clear the buildings, sniff for bombs and booby-traps, search for false walls or hidden doors where Bin Laden could be hiding, or help keep curious neighbors at bay.
As it turned out, after one of the helicopters crashed outside the compound’s walls. Cairo, a translator named Ahmed, and four SEALs were responsible for closing off the perimeter of the house while six other SEALs—the contingent that was supposed to have dropped onto the roof—moved inside. For the team patrolling the perimeter, the first fifteen minutes passed without incident. Neighbors undoubtedly heard the low-flying helicopters, the sound of one crashing, and the sporadic explosions and gunfire that ensued, but nobody came outside.
Eventually, a few curious Pakistanis approached to inquire about the commotion on the other side of the wall. “Go back to your houses,” Ahmed said in Pashto, as Cairo and his Seal Team stood watch. “There is a security operation under way.” The locals went home, none of them suspecting that they had talked to an American.
When the squadron commander, spoke at the ceremony honoring Cairo and the Seal Team Six team, he started by citing all the forward operating bases in eastern Afghanistan that had been named for SEALs killed in combat.
“Everything we have done for the last ten years prepared us for this,” he told Obama. The President was “in awe of these guys,” Ben Rhodes, the deputy national-security adviser, who travelled with Obama, said. “It was an extraordinary base visit,” he added. “They knew he had staked his Presidency on this. He knew they staked their lives on it.”
And Cairo, the brave Belgian Malinois, trained to slide down a rope or jump 5,000 feet to help protect our troops and country, was there.